What happens to Stefanos Tsitsipas? At Flushing Meadows, his first two convincing laps had reinforced his status as an outsider, and then patatras! On Friday, the Greek was scuttled when he had to validate his ticket for the second week of the US Open, which would have been a big first for him. Six times, he had the opportunity to conclude against Borna Coric without succeeding, confirming a strong tendency in Grand Slam: since his cruel defeat at the end of five sets against Stan Wawrinka in a sumptuous round of 16 at Roland Garros last year, he no longer manages to shine in the Major.
In his next four tries (Wimbledon 2019, US Open 2019, Australian Open 2020 and US Open 2020), the world number 6 failed to get past the 3rd round. However, after his victory at the Masters at the end of last season, Tsitsipas announced the color. “Our era of tennis is changing. The ‘Big 3’ is obviously getting old, we are the ones behind it. So my goal is to win a Grand Slam title, that’s for sure. Even if it’s not a matter of life and death“, he had advanced.
The Masters curse continues
Legitimate ambition or a sin of pride? Among observers attentive to the circuit, the first hypothesis receives the majority of votes. When taking stock of the end of last season in the show “DiP Impact”, our consultant Arnaud Di Pasquale insisted on the solidity of the Greek compared to all his colleagues of the famous “Next Gen”. “Tsitsipas is complete, he can do everything and very, very well. And mentally, he’s stronger. Because we have known players who knew how to do everything, like (Grigor) Dimitrov who is very fast, physically very good. On the other hand, more fragile mentally. Tsitsipas will be more regular because mentally, he is above“, he considered.
Still, like the Bulgarian and Alexander Zverev, who had won the Masters tournament the previous two years, the Greek stalled when confirming. If the thesis of the difficulty to concede a painful defeat stood for his entry elimination at Wimbledon last year, the rest is more mysterious. Undoubtedly, something is going on in the head of the guy in Grand Slam. The carefree and euphoria of Melbourne 2019, where he created a sensation by reaching the last four, leaving his idol Roger Federer in passing, lived. There are now many questions.
To realize this, it suffices to analyze the missed match points against Borna Coric on Friday. With the exception of the first where he could not control his backhand return on a powerful opponent’s serve, Tsitsipas clearly trembled: three forehand fouls (including one totally off-center) and two backhand fouls from the second stroke. racket to harvest your occasions. At 5/3, 40/0 in this famous 4th set, he even gave the impression of getting rid of the ball by missing a cushion, instead of showing himself conqueror and going for the match at the net, which it is however customary.
A new status to be understood
Before that, he had been unable to close debates at 5-2 on his serve, turning to his clan and pointing his head, as an admission of weakness. The Greek also made some relaxation movements, to relax a visibly very tight right arm. Was it the absence of a few top names, foremost among them Federer and Nadal, and the real opportunity to go far that disturbed his mind? Only he knows it.
But his words to understand this US Open now resonate differently. “For the tournament, their absence is a loss but for the players, much less, because several players are more likely to perform now. At least I would have fewer complicated periods than if I had had to face them “, he had exclaimed, as aware that he had no right to miss.
If Tsitsipas may have more weapons technically than Zverev – especially in his game forward and at the net – his trajectory is necessarily reminiscent of that of the German. Winner at 20 in Masters 1000, the great Sascha also had a lot of trouble managing the expectations around him in the Grand Slam. But just when we least expected him, he also managed to play his first semi-final in Melbourne earlier this year. The person himself had conceded it, no longer carrying alone the responsibilities of the advent of a generation at the highest level had allowed him to free himself. To find the light, Tsitsipas, perhaps, also needs to be forgotten somewhat.